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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Peshtigo Council Hires New Parks And Recreation Director

Issue Date: October 3, 2019

At its meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 1, Peshtigo City Council sadly accepted the resignation and pending retirement of long-time Fire Chief Steve Anderson and welcomed Shawn Northrop as its new Parks and Recreation Director.

"I really don't want to make this motion," Alderman Debbie Sievert declared before moving for approval of the Personnel Committee's recommendation to accept Anderson's resignation from both the fire chief post and the Fire Department. She indicated it had to be done, since she chairs the committee.

Anderson's retirement becomes effective on Dec. 22. He has been Peshtigo Fire Chief for 31 years, and was a member of the department for 47 years, 46 of them as a paid firefighter. Anderson joked that his pay over the years probably averaged three cents an hour.

"We definitely want to thank you for all your years of service," Mayor Cathi Malke told Anderson.

Northrop's first official day as a city employee will be Monday, Oct. 14. The Parks and Recreation Director position has been vacant since the position of David Zahn was terminated on Aug. 2.

Northrop was recommended by the Personnel Committee to fill the vacancy after some long closed door meetings spent reviewing applications and interviewing candidates. The last of the interviews were on Monday, Sept. 30, when committee recommendation to hire Northrop had been approved in closed session.

Sievert said Police Chief Richard Badgley had advised her the background check on Northrop had come back "A-Okay," so she moved for approval of the action recommended by the Personnel Committee, which had been to hire Northrop at starting pay of $39,500, with $500 raises scheduled on April 1 and Oct. 1, pending satisfactory performance.

Aldermen present and voting in favor were in addition to Sievert were Brigitte Schmidt, John Berendt, and Mike Behnke. Trustees Jillian Schutte and Archer Leupp were absent.

After the vote, Mayor Malke introduced Northrop, who was seated at the back of the room.

"It's going to be very exciting," Northrop declared. "I've got lot of stuff to do, so I'm eager to get started."

He said after the meeting that he has already given his two weeks' notice to his current employers at Share Academy, and will start his new position on Monday, Oct. 14.

He currently resides in the Town of Peshtigo with his wife, the former Renee Matty of Crivitz, and three children.

He was born in Colorado Springs, Colo. and moved a lot as a child in a military family. He joined the Navy himself from Monterey, Calif. in 2000 and spent nine years as a Seabee. In 2009 he left the Navy but continued in government service as a peace officer. He moved to this area in 2018.

Also as recommended by the Personnel Committee, Council accepted the resignations of Tanner Lemery and Christopher Erickson from the Fire Department effective Sept. 1 and 6 respectively; removed the name of Richard Brandon, Jr. as a member of the Fire Department as he had not submitted the required paper work, and approved hiring Brandon Lindsey as a firefighter. In regard to the resignations, Malke asked Anderson to "Please be sure to thank these firefighters for all they've done for the city."

Also by unanimous vote Council decreed that ghosts, goblins and the like can haunt city streets on Halloween - Thursday, Oct. 31, from 4 to 6 p. m., which have been the city's Trick or Treating hours for a number of years. Chief Badgley said the hours work out well for his department.

Malke announced Marinette County's updated Hazard Mitigation Plan is available for viewing at City Hall and on-line, and will be the subject of a public meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 23. A letter from Emergency Management Coordinator Kathy Frank said public input is requested on the draft plan and the public informational meeting to present the draft plan, maps and other materials will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 23 in the Jury Assembly Room at the Courthouse in Marinette. The plan can be viewed and comments can also be submitted on-line through Oct. 23 at www.marinettecounty.com.

Council unanimously approved renewing the Library lease for space in the Municipal Building at the same price and same terms as last year.

During time for public comment, Josh Grabowski, who lives with his family at 210 North Ellis Ave., made an impassioned plea for the city to do something to slow or stop the traffic on a narrow city-owned alley between Green Street and Emery Ave. that separates his house and his garage. Grabowski explained he owns two lots, one on each side of the alley. His house sits on one and his garage on the other. He said both are dangerously close to the intersection, and cars are speeding out onto the sidewalk blind. He said two months ago a neighbor's child was struck while riding a pedal bike on the sidewalk there, and his own son narrowly escaped being hit. His girlfriend actually had a bag of groceries knocked out of her arms while she was attempting to unload the car, and a neighbor was struck two years ago by a speeding car. A vehicle swerved off the alley pavement and almost hit him while he was changing the oil in his car.

He said two years ago a car speeding through the alley knocked his garage of its foundations and tore off the entire front, and then drove off. He said the police do their best to patrol the area, but they cannot spend all their time there.

"I'm about ready to sit in front of my garage with my gun and a sign calling for traffic to slow down," Grabowski declared. He said that would probably get a lot of attention, so first, "I'm asking you guys for help!"

Grabowski said there are no power poles in the alley, no utilities are located there, and garbage trucks do not run through it.

Malke agreed it is a bad alley. She said Grabowski told her he had written to the Streets and Drainage Committee in the past, but she couldn't recall it. Public Works Director George Cowell said a request to close that alley had been considered several years ago. Behnke also remembered the letter, and said businesses located there have changed since then and indicated the alley may no longer be needed.

Grabowski's concerns were referred to the Streets and Drainage Committee, which is chaired by Alderman Berendt. Berendt said he will try to meet this month to get something done to resolve the issues there.

Cowell reported the city may be facing some costly improvements to its sewer system. They had another overflow at the river crossing. It had stopped yesterday, but today was within three inches of running over again. Problems were attributed to the huge amount of rain this year.

Cowell said three of the four corrective actions agreed to following the last overflow problem have been done and the fourth is underway, but now he expects the DNR to come with more requirements.

They have disconnected the roof drains from the school building, updated the DNR emergency contact number list, and about a month ago televised 3,800 feet of the sewer system at a cost of $12,000. He expects the DNR will now order them to do more televising in view of the most recent overflow.

The fourth action step, making sure there are no sump pumps draining into the sanitary sewer system, is under way. Letters are being sent to every property owner instructing them that any sump pumps connected to the sanitary sewer system must be disconnected and made to drain into yards and probably eventually will end up in the storm sewer system.

Malke asked Cowell to get a more informative article in the Peshtigo Times in regard to things residents can do to help prevent future overflows.

Cowell said he always puts out a press release when there is an overflow and repeated that letters are being sent to property owners.

He said the DNR could require improving the river crossing sewer line, which would be a very extensive and costly project. The 600-foot crossing was built before 1920 and consists of two 6-inch cast iron pipes which are approaching the end of their useful lives. He added that consultant Taryn Nall has looked at improving the crossing and commented, "We're looking at a pretty major project here."

On a happier note, Cowell reported that DNR staff recently spent three days in the city viewing mainly the water system, and overall, everything went well. He will be getting the DNR report soon.

Application has been submitted for the annual recycling grant, and a small Forestry Grant request has also been sent in for some trees to plant near the boat launch on NW Front Street and younger trees to fill in on streets where mature trees may be reaching the end of their life spans.

Cowell said there were only two bids submitted for recycling carts, and he recommended accepting the lowest. That bid, from Envirotech Equipment and Sierra, was for a total of $58,919.30 for a total of 1,160 95 gallon carts and thirty 65 gallon sizes. The other bid, from BPM Inc., for the same number and size carts, totaled $73,340. The purchase was approved, with Finance Committee to determine where the money will come from Finance Committee Chair Brigitte Schmidt said the General Fund is the probable source. Delivery is scheduled for Dec. 15, so the carts can be distributed before the new recycling pickup contract goes into effect on Jan. 1.

In response to a question from Malke, Cowell said they had asked for bidders on an option to provide bins for recycling instead of carts, but no one had bid on that option.

In response to some requests from property owners to have sidewalk improvement work done this year if possible, Council approved a Finance and Claims Committee recommendation to allocate $5,000 from the General Fund to the Sidewalk Construction Account for contractual work for sidewalk projects. If the work cannot be done this year the funds are to be carried over until 2020. The city shares sidewalk repair costs with the adjoining property owners.

The Fire, Lighting and Building Committee had referred some city building maintenance responsibility issues to the Personnel Committee for review, and for possible suggestions as to who should be handling these responsibilities. They also authorized Chief Anderson to get two quotes for each of the maintenance items he had brought up.

At Malke's invitation, Police Chief Badgley reported he had successfully applied for a $395.78 grant from the Federal Government's Bureau of Justice Assistance to purchase bullet proof vests for the police department under its 2019 Bulletproof Vest Partnership solicitation. Badgley commented $400 is not a lot of money, but every little bit helps, and it will be put to good use. To be eligible for the funding, all jurisdictions had to certify that a mandatory wear policy was in place. Badgley added that Malke had helped him with the grant application.

After a long closed session discussion on labor agreements with Teamsters Union Local 662 and WPPA/Leer Peshtigo Police on Wednesday, Sept. 25, the Personnel Committee had forwarded proposed 2020 Salary and Wage schedules to the Finance Committee.

The Personnel Committee meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 25 began at 9 a.m. By 9:11 a.m. the fire department resignations had been approved and the committee voted to go into closed session. They did not return to open session until 1:42 p.m.

Reasons for the closed session were to consider a candidate for a firefighter position, (which ended up being the recommendation to hire Brandon Lindsey), and negotiations with Teamsters Union Local 662 and WPPA/Leer Peshtigo Police Labor Agreement.

Committee members Sievert, Behnke and Leupp were present along with Malke and Clerk/Treasurer Tammy Kasal. Also present in the closed session at various times were Steve Kessler, Randy Ingram of the Peshtigo Professional Police Assoc.; WPPA/LEER Local 52, Mark Madden, Beth Kirchman for General Teamsters Union Local 662, Public Works Director George Cowell, Lieutenant Jared Phillips, and Police Chief Rick Badgley. Leupp was excused at 11:55 a.m.

After returning to open session at 1:42 p.m. the committee approved hiring Brandon Lindsey as a fire fighter and then discussed the 2020 wage and salary schedule for non-union city employees until 3:28 p.m. Before adjourning Behnke and Sievert agreed to forward the proposed 2020 salary and wage schedule to the Finance Committee, which is to consider it later this month.


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